On January 1st, the Lubbock County Tax Assessor office started collecting a higher process and handling fee. The charge of $4.75 is collected from anyone trying to register their vehicle.
Ronnie Keister, Tax Assessor Collector, said the fee is higher than in the past, because the state is trying to collect $50 million for the transportation fund. Keister said the state is expected to collect about $110 million from taxpayers in 2017 from this fee.
Adam Shaivitz, Spokesperson for Texas DMV, said Keister's claims are inaccurate.
"In actuality," Shaivitz said. "The processing and handling fee covers approximately $69 million or 38% of TxDMV’s annual budget."
In the legislation that approved the higher fee, Keister said lawmakers also decided to give the Department of Motor Vehicles a fee-based budget. Before their budget came from general revenue. Now Keister said their entire budget comes from this process and handling fee.
The TxDMV said the fee covers the cost of processing your vehicle registration. It includes state and county services, printing of annual renewal notices, registration stickers and other related services and materials.
Beyond actual registration, what does the TxDMV use the money for?
"I would think the citizen's are owed an explanation by DMV of what they are spending the money for," Keister said. "I think that the citizen's should support Senator Perry, Representative Frullo, Representative Burrows and say we are with you. 'We don't like this fee, we don't want it and if we are going to have to pay it we want to make sure it goes here where we are getting the benefit from it.'"
"The goal of the processing and handling fee is to enhance transparency," Shaivitz said in defense of the changes. "Prior to the implementation of this fee on January 1, 2017, Texans really had no easy way of knowing how much of their registration fee went towards the construction of roads and bridges versus how much went towards processing and other administrative fees."
Right now, Keister said the county only keeps about $2.30 from each registration fee, with the remaining money goes to the state. If registration is done at United Supermarkets, United keeps $1.00 and the county only receives $1.30. If registration is done online, the county only gets $0.25.
With this fee, Keister said counties across the state can expect lose $7.5 million in 2017. Lubbock County only expects to be at a $20,000 deficit. Keister said it is not ideal, but manageable.
"We don't want to pass that on to the taxpayers," Kesiter said. "We don't want to do a property tax increase. We are going to operate as tight of strings as we can to make sure that we operate the way that we need too...but it is a fight that we need everybody's help with."
Keister said taxpayers should reach out to their representatives to let them know how they feel about the higher fee.
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